Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNNQKews3yk&t=485s
Since its inception, the idea of ‘dating’ has changed quite a bit. Dating used to consist of first dates that ended with marriage proposals, or families making marriage deals between their children. However in the past three decades, dating has very much evolved. Today, online dating has become one of the most conventional methods to find love. However, online dating wasn’t always readily accepted, but, as the population of online daters grew, the societal perspective has gradually become more accepting of online dating.
In the early 1700’s with the invention of the first modern newspaper, Personal ads were put in to the paper by bachelors to find eligible wives.The ads weren’t placed by men only looking for wives but men looking for other men as well- and so it became the #1 way for gay communities to meet discreetly and safely at the time.
Unfortunately the same couldn’t be said for women. It was frowned upon to have a woman place an ad in the newspaper looking for a husband. One particular woman, Helen Morrison, was able to convince the editor of Manchester Weekly to feature a small ad that read she was “seeking someone nice to spend her life with”. A man did respond to Helen, but it wasn’t the man she was hoping for. It was the mayor, who had her committed to an insane asylum for four weeks for simply placing the ad. Despite all these ads in the newspapers, the need to advertise for a husband or wife was still considered a “failure” and associated with deviant behavior for many judgmental straight, white, middle-to-upper class people in the mid-19th century.But as magazines and periodicals such as The Wedding Bell in the US and The Correspondent,hit the newsstands with immense popularity, matchmaking and personals took off as well, creating the first wave of true mainstream normalization for the personal ad.
And Around the turn of the last century, personal ads enjoyed a renaissance of popularity, especially in the Western US with low populations and the harsh realities of rural life without a partner. Lonely farmers, ranchers, and shepherds began placing ads looking to continue their legacies with a good, old country girl.
Personal ads went mainstream again in the early 20th century, when social pressures to get married by 21 (and thus, expectations for relationships) were much lower, thankfully than their earlier incarnations. Many of the postings were simply calls for friends or pen pals. These kinds of ads were especially fashionable among lonely soldiers during World War I. Many relationships were formed via pen pals with woman helping run the country at home and men away in Europe fighting the war.
Removed from the context of wartime, old stigmas crept back in. Like the Internet today, lonely hearts ads were suspected of harboring all sort of scams and perversities. Because they were often used by homosexuals and sex workers, police continued to prosecute those who placed personals until the late 1960s, when ads became part of the burgeoning youth counterculture.
However, the greatest influence of online dating is technology. The growth of technology has created and spread online dating. The first social networking site, Six Degrees, was launched 1997; this was a great step in connecting people from all over the world by allowing users to create online profiles and become friends with other users.
In fact, dating sites are sometimes considered the first social network. Myspace was founded in 2003 and by 2006, it had grown to be the most popular social network in the world. Facebook started out as a Harvard-only social network in 2004, but quickly expanded to the public by 2006, and it eventually surpassed myspace in 2008.
The first site strictly created for online dating was Match.com and went live in 1995. Today, 40% of Americans use online dating. 27% of young adults report using online dating sites which shows a 10% increase from 2013. This is likely from an influx of dating apps on smartphones For 55-64 year olds there has been a 6% increase from 2013-2015. Also, more men use online dating than women 52.4% vs. 47.6%.
As a result, more than ⅓ of marriages start online. It is the second most common way for heterosexual couples to meet and the most popular method for homosexuals. Online dating has also reflected an increase in interracial marriages. And married couples who meet online have lower rates of divorce than traditional meetings. Technology has made communication simple for those who are physically distanced and, as a result, has encouraged the creation of relationships.
As technology advanced, apprehension regarding online dating digressed. Some argue that, because technology’s ability to connect people from all around the world made online dating virtually inevitable, people who gain experience with online dating will inevitably support it. In other words, anyone to engages in online dating will likely approve of it and sustain this biased opinion that stems from the innate motive to protect one’s self-image in society. It’s easy to rationalize one’s actions if the motives are approved by society.
However, above all, an individual’s opinion on online dating is based on the experiences of someone he/she knows who has online dated. For example, if I knew a guy who met his stalker through online dating, I’m more likely to deem online dating as toxic and dangerous, but if I knew a girl who met her husband through online dating, I’m more likely to approve of online dating. Here’s the key: since more and more people today are online dating, individuals are more likely to know someone who has had a positive experience, hence collectively creating this shift in societal perspective.
This is interesting, for the risks of online dating have not dissolved. If anything, with the exponential increase in users, the risks are heightened. One of an online dater’s greatest fears may be to romantically connect with a catfish, a term popularized by media and television, used to describe a person who treds online under a false identity.
However, because more people are willing to take these risks associated with online dating, an element of ease is involved. This traces back to an evolutionary approach which reports that humans tend to gravitate towards situations involving groups because it inherently feels safer since animals who stayed in groups were less likely to be killed.
But, why do people online date to begin with? Well, for one, individuals fear embodying a personality that may be ridiculed and disliked, and so they use the internet to customize their characters and “test run” identities in order to choose one that is most liked by society. For example, online dating may allow an individual to virtually eradicate a quality that isn’t admired by society like shyness and encourage the user to present more likable characteristics. This is a subconscious form of self-protection from embarrassment, neglect, rejection, and other forms of humility. Creating online profiles has become a modernized version of identity formation.
Online dating is a reflection of the people’s expectations. Society made us believe that it’s basically crucial to find a life partner. And so, people rush to find “true love” and get married within a “socially appropriate” span of time. Online dating is the easiest and most convenient way to meet people which corresponds with this idea in psychology that says you will naturally do whatever is fastest and takes the least amount of effort for the same reward. The effort of going online, compared to going out and meeting people, is minimal, and the reward of social, romantic interaction is desirable and remains the same for both methods. And so, the online daters have built a substantial population that will continue to grow.
Every day, the population of online daters continues to grow. As the community grows, the likelihood of knowing someone with a positive online dating experience increases hence increasing the societal acceptance of online dating overall. And so, more and more people today choose to click and swipe to meet their “happily ever afters”.